Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Final Words...Parole Finali

I've been back in the states for only a few days, and it's hard to exactly say how I feel about the summer. "Trip of a Lifetime," "Unforgettable Experience,"...everything I come up with seems so cliche, yet accurate as well.

It wasn't all fun and games, and it wasn't some sort of romantic escapade captured by Jane Austin... but it was hard work. We woke up early every day, painted in the heat, winds, bugs, sometimes even rain! But we did it...in Italy. Not bad.

I left excited to spend the summer in a foreign country, to have an experience that I could truly call my own. No responsibilities to anybody but myself. I left wanting to grow as an artist, observe other artists, and absorb work of the masters- Michelangelo, Raphael, Bernini, Botticelli, Caravaggio, Correggio, Titian...just to name a few. I spent time in Florence breathless from the amazing works of art and the vibe of creativity. In Venice I became taken by the architecture, surrounded by a sense of calm that only rivers for streets could bring about. In Rome, I was overwhelmed with the history, the churches, and it's overall grandness. Throughout the summer, I was introduced to one great place after another... rooftops in Todi, caves and real italian pizza in Orvieto, alleyways and arches in Perugia, throwing pots at Mario's, decaying walls and ancient doors in Multipulciano, dogs on castle walls and hot espresso in 100 degree heat at Castel Veito, swimming breaks at Castiglione del Lago, winding streets and spirituality in Assisi, pomp and circumstance in Sienna, finally painting a scooter and pizza with honey in Cortona... the list goes on...

And did I mention the shopping???

Corciano, however, is where I lived. This amazing little hilltop village, is where I used pure purple as a shadow for the first time. It's where I greeted dogs in Italian. I had gelato almost every day, and umbrian white wine while looking at beautiful clouds and vistas in the evenings. I wrote two children's stories inspired by my surroundings. I got engaged here!! I learned, that you can always make another painting tomorrow, if you don't like what you did today. I understand now, why Jason felt like Corciano was such a special place. And yes, as cliche as it sounds, I can't really put into words how precious I feel this place is... because it's not only where I grew as an artist... but I really grew as a person. I have no desire to settle down here, I don't feel like it's my home, but it was my Italian home, and an important part of my life.

I'm not sure if any of the other folks felt this way, but what is really cool, is that this group are the only ones who really share this experience. When we see each other again, it will be like we all know a secret, and only folks who came on this trip are privliged to know what it is. Every single person, from the teachers to my peers, had something to teach me. I hope that maybe... they picked up something from me, too. (Besides learning how to say DOG in italian!!)

Anyhow, I feel like I should leave this with some words of wisdom, which I don't really have. So I'll sign off with these final photos, of the group, and of myself with my body of work from the summer. Some good paintings, some not so good, but all a part of the learning process, and all a part of my time in Italia.

Ciao Tutti...!

Monday, August 11, 2008

The Flight Home....

Needless to say, my actual birthday... didn't really exist!

After having to pay an arm and a leg for Delta to accept my overweight luggage, getting lost in the Rome Airport, changing gates 3 times, having flights delayed, and some annoying turbulance... we finally made it home!!

On the plus side, Eileen, Sean and I all got to sit together on the flight from Rome to Atlanta...we enjoyed several in-flight movies and a combination of gabbing & napping. Jason & Isaac shared our flight, and visited us on occasion... As far as flying goes, once we were in the air, it wasn't half bad!

The last leg was spent sound asleep by the three of us, and Jason took a voucher to stay in a hotel with Isaac.... I hope he made it off of the Atlanta airport floor!!

As trying as a transatlantic flight is, it was worth it once I arrived. I got to be with Dave and my girl again... MATTIE!! Il mio cane bello!! I missed my muse so much! We had a nice reunion, and I think she missed me, too....

Roma-The Final Countdown!!

On our last day, we saw what was the mothership of Roma, The Vatican Museum!

Again, we woke up bright and early in order to avoid crowds and extreme heat and made the march to the Vatican City.

It was already brutally hot at around 8-9 AM when we arrived at the Vatican, and we felt it! Luckily, there were a few fountains we could cool ourselves along the way, and the line wasn't too long.

The museum itself, was phenominal. Everyone's goal is to arrive at the Sistine Chapel, but there was so much to see along the way! First we went along a series of rooms including various sculptures. One room was just animal sculptures! (you know I was there!!) We also saw many roman replica's of greek sculptures, which all seemed pretty amazing to me! According to my instructor, the Greek ones are even better...

On of the famous peices we were able to see was "The Laoco├Ân and His Sons", an original sculpture from around 160 B.C. I has only seen copies of this from my undergrad, and I remember drawing it as an assignment. Seeing the real thing was an absolute thrill!

Along the way we went into another series of rooms, including tapestries, frescos, more sculptures, and maps! Amongst all of these classical maps, we were able to find Corciano... no stone was left unturned!

One of the pieces I was excited to finally see in person was Raphael's "School of Athens." I absolutely loved it! This was one of the moments I really wished I had more time, because I could have spent quite a bit of it just picking apart every detail of this masterpiece. One of the many reasons I need to go back to Roma!

But the pinnacle of all of this, was Michelangelo's most famous (and first ever!) fresco... The Sistine Chapel. It was every bit as amazing as I thought it would be. I spent at least 20 minutes just sitting and looking, absorbing, and embracing this "wonder" of my world. I felt extremely lucky to be in the presence of this incredible work of art. It's so large, and consuming, it's hard to believe that it's real!! No photos allowed... but I took video!!

After we did the Vatican museum, it was time to see Rome's most famous church, St. Peters. This place was every bit as opulant as I imagined, if not more. The exterior was large and beautiful, the interior was dripping with gold, sculptures, marble and gems. Not only was this church probably one of the more amazing houses of worship I had seen, it housed another of Michelangelo's sculptures, The Pieta. Beautiful and Breathtaking.

Once we all had our fill of world famous art and museums, it was time for a relaxing cocktail and lunch! We all stopped at local ristorante, most folks enjoyed cold beers or water, but I couldn't resist my favorite italian white wine... just a small one!

After lunch, we were all ready to melt from the heat. (I think it was the hottest day so far...) and the Holiday Inn with the Pool that we were spending our last night in wasn't too far away!

After a nice dip in the pool, we enjoyed a casual dinner at the hotel bar. Both of my instructors, Craig and Jason, treated me to a birthday dinner. At the end of the meal I was surprised by a birthday cake and a big pink candle! I couldn't resist going Carmen with it for a "photo op" or two...!!

After dinner, we all hung out and had a few drinks at the hotel bar (for my birthday!!) and also as a last hurrah and goodbye to everyone. We were all leaving at different times the next day, and the photo op's along with a lot of "keep in touch!" es were exchanged. I sure hope we do all keep in touch! This was a great group of folks to spend my summer with....

Roma-Parte Due

Our second day in Rome, we woke up bright and early to go on what my man decided to call "the art march of death." Even though he wasn't there... he wasn't too far from the truth!!

However, in order to survive this "art walk" a few of us left the hotel in the morning in search of better coffee that was served at the continental breakfast. While looking for a cafe, we happened upon the local piazza in which a market was taking place. An old man tried to sell me a handy carrot peeler... but his charms didn't work (nor do I have any room in my luggage for anything!) We also happened upon one of the funnies taps I've seen yet... Gotta love Italy!

We started again by revisiting The Piazza Navona, which was much less crowded in the morning, so we could see the fountains and sculptures much easier. Unfortunately, the famous Bernini sculpture was undergoing renovation, but we could see a bit of it through the construction. There were some other fountains (and characters) that I found worthwhile!

We went back to the Pantheon as well, again... this was different in the morning. Less crowded, and we could appreciate the space much more.

After this, we went on a wild church chase. Almost everything that's worth seeing in Rome is in the churches. We first went to St. Igancio's, where the most amazing false dome was painted! Jason made us all walk in with our heads down, and not look up until he said so...we were all fooled! It was a pretty cool optical illusion.

After that it was the march of Caravaggio's... and well worth it. We visited two separate churches that had the master's paintings in it. They were amazing. I have always been a huge fan of Caravaggio, and to be able to see his work in a place where it was meant to be seen, was breathtaking. My pictures cannot capture what I actually saw.

Once we saw these, we took a little break in the Piazza del Popolo for lunch, and then we separated for a few hours. I decided I wanted to see Santa Maria degli Angeli (St. Mary of the Angels and the Martyrs), which was a church designed by Michelangelo, and I ran into Sean who wanted to see San Giovanni Laterano, so we decided to brave the Roman Subway and do both!

St. Mary's church was a pretty amazing sight. Dave, who stumbled upon it while waiting for a train in Rome on his way to the airport, recommended it to me. On the floor was an amazing sight...a sundial/calendar designed to predict the most accurate time for Easter, as well as some other things. I tiny pinhole in the wall shone down onto a linear calendar on the floor. Amazing.

This church was built next to the Roman Baths, but unfortunately they were closed! On to our next destination...

The "San Giovanni Laterano"(Basilica of St. John Lateran) I have learned since I've been there, is the mother of all the churches in Rome. It is the main church of the Bishop of Rome, who IS the Pope. This pretty much explains why it's so lavish... it seemed to me that each church I saw got more ornate than the last. This one took the cake so far... Apparently, its importance within the Roman Catholic Church even outranks St. Peters in the Vatican City.

After our independent excursion, we met up at the Galleria Borghese, which holds many of Bernini's classic sculptures including Apollo and Daphne, The Rape of Persephone, and his David. He and Michelangelo were rivals and loathed each other, and you can see why! Two genius sculptors within city limits would undoubtably lead to some competition... Along with Bernini, this museum also included works by Caravaggio, Titian, and a special exhibit of Correggio. I was fortunate to see two paintings that I had done papers on, including Jupiter and Io by Coreggio, and Sacred and Prophane Love by Titian. It felt so amazing to see two pieces in life that I had only been able to analyze in books and over the computer screen.

Once we were finished with the Borghese, it was on to The National Museum of Modern Art. Here there were a few famous artists including Chagall, Degas, Monet, and many others. However, I found these collections fairly weak compared to the modern collections I've seen in the states. There was, however, an artist I had never heard of, Fillippo Palizza, who mostly portrayed animals, especially farm animals and horses! There was a fabulous paining of a flock of sheep coming upon a flock of goats, and the Border Collies going at it to protect their herds! I couldn't help but think of my Mattie!! It was fun to know that even some classic painters and I had similar loves.

No pictures allowed in either museum, which was fine. It's all in my memory box....

It had been a long art march that day! And a quiet evening was all I needed. A few folks and I went out to dinner in the neighboring Piazza to our hotel, and had a little toast to my upcoming birthday...! It was just what the doctor ordered.